Volume 1 Number 2 - May 15, 2002
Here They Go Again – Property Taxes Explode
What Can Be Done To Get Them Under Control
I'm sure most of you have received your annual greeting from your local Property Appraisal District. Like so many recent years your appraised value has increased by approximately 10% and your property tax will increase by a like amount UNLESS our taxing entities do something to slow or stop these annual unvoted for tax increases.
To put this in perspective, Harris County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt has calculated that since 1996 through 2001, the average Houston area home property appraisal valuation has increased by 47.2% and the total property tax bill is up 56.7% due to tax rate increase on top of the appraised value increases.* This runaway taxation is why Paul Bettencourt called for an "across the board" tax rate cut last year and why I was the first Republican elected official to publicly support his call for a pro-taxpayer, pro-homeowner public policy.
Do you think that property taxes should grow faster than inflation? I don't and you would be surprised to know that the federal government says the cumulative rate of inflation for the same five-year period is only 15.9%, according to the Consumer Price Index statistics.
It is time to end the charade engaged in by many elected officials that “they didn't raise taxes”. The truth is they have either supported or have acquiesced to a system that automatically increases taxes yearly without a vote of accountable elected officials. We fought our revolution in 1776 over taxation without representation and this present system is not much different.
So what can be done: First, demand that every major local taxing entity vote to reduce the property tax rate to offset the massive property value increase this year. After they've gone to zero based property tax revenue they can debate and vote to raise taxes, if they want but understanding they are ultimately accountable to the voters.
Second, demand the Texas legislature put a halt to our present system and codify step one so property taxes can no longer be increased without a vote of the responsible governmental entity.
Third, demand that runaway government spending be controlled, prioritized, go to zero based budgeting and start using Comptroller Carol Rylander's Yellow Pages test for government function (i.e., if a private business does it ask why should we have government doing it).
A property tax revolt is on the horizon in Texas. For Republicans we can help lead reform or be part of the collateral damage when taxpayers vote to oust those who are not taxpayer friendly in future elections.
* Note: This calculation is based upon the 282,000 homes in the Houston Independent School District, Houston Community College System, the City of Houston, and Harris County
What can you do?
First, protest your property appraisal with your local Property Appraisal District by May 31, 2002. For tips on an effective appeal, see this (Word document).
Second, contact your elected officials by phone, fax, mail or e-mail and ask them to lower the property tax rate. The Harris County entities that charge property tax are cities, Harris County, all school districts and community colleges. Their telephone numbers and addresses can be found in the blue part of your SBC White Pages. Elected officials notice when voters contact them. Remember silence equals acceptance.
ALSO OF INTEREST
From time to time I will refer you to or attach extraordinary articles, e-mails with attachments or websites for your review. Rest assured I will only do this when it is worth your valuable time. I have available this week an interesting perspective on the Palestinian Liberation Organization in their own words. Power Point presentation: Solution to the Mid-East Conflict
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long time Republican spokesman, fund raiser, leader who just completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events. For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
The Texas Conservative Review is published as a public service by Gary Polland
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